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Ages it was usual in many places to include in the Maundy a
certain number of poor scholars. Thus, at Worcester, as we
learn from a customary of the end of the thirteenth century,
the prior of the cathedral monastery maintained in Lent
thirteen poor, of whom three were clerks appointed by the
schoolmaster, " and the Schoolmaster further had this grace,
that every week when he was teaching school, he received a
Maundy (mandatum) from the Almoner, which he could give
to whichever of his clerks he liked ". This custom was said in
1535, to have been instituted by St. Oswald, who expelled the
cathedral canons for monks, and St. Wolstan, the last English
bishop. So if Lanfranc's Maundy included some scholars,
it was through no exceptional encouragement of learning on
his part. But in Lanfranc's own Acts we have no record of
anything done for the benefit of schools or scholars. He and
his pupil and successor Anselm were too busy in promoting
monasticism and the Papal power and in riveting on the necks
of the Latin West the doctrine of Transubstantiation, in op-
position to Berengarius, and the rational doctrine of the
Sacrament, which ^Elfric's works show to have prevailed in
England before the Conquest, to have time or inclination for
improving the schools.

It has been already pointed out that a monastery was not
mainly recruited from boys brought up in it. The lives of
Lanfranc himself, as of Herluin and of Anselm, of Alexander
Neckham, of Abbot Matthew of St. Alban's and Abbot
Sampson of Bury in the succeeding generations, show that
they were mainly recruited from grown men who for some
reason felt a " call " for the monastic life, either in a fit of
remorse for crimes committed, or under the spell of religious
revivalism, or simply as seeking a quiet and well-fed life.
How unimportant a part the " school " in the monastery


played may be judged from the fact that in Lanfranc's famous
" Constitutions " or Rules for monasteries, out of twenty-four
chapters, only one, and that one of the shortest, the twenty-
first, occupying two and a half pages out of one hundred and
seven, is concerned with the boys, and out of those two and a
half pages about the boys not a word suggests any instruction
in anything but reading and singing. For these and these
alone were the necessary preparation for acting as a choir-
monk, whose whole duty was to sing psalms, read the lessons,
and say long prayers, all by heart, seven times a day.

These " Constitutions ", though addressed only to the Prior
of Christchurch itself, were apparently accepted as a Rule for
the whole order of Benedictine monks in England. The re-
gulations as to the boys, whether the oblates, boys vowed to
monkery in their earliest infancy, the infantes or children, or
the juvenes or youths from fourteen to twenty-one, who
came in as pulsantes or postulants, knocking for admission are
very minute, very stringent, and very monastic, but not at
all scholastic. They imply no learning whatever beyond
knowing the psalms and services by heart. Their framer
evidently regarded boys as quite as dangerous elements in
the cloister as women. The only mention of their learning
is in the direction that the prior shall wake the brethren up in
the morning as soon as it is light enough for the boys to see
to read in the cloister; when they have said their prayers
they are then to read aloud for some time. They are
not allowed to touch each other, or even speak to each
other, much less to any senior monk. When reading even,
they are to sit " separate from each other, so that one cannot
touch another with his hands or clothes. No child shall
dare to make a sign or say a word to another except in
the sight and hearing of the master ; nor get up from the
place in which he sits unless told or given leave to do so.
Wherever the children go there shall be a master between
every two of them. They shall not put anything into
anyone's hand or take anything from anyone's hand, except in
the case of the abbot, the senior prior, or their own master ",
and that not everywhere but only " in proper places, where it
cannot or ought not to be otherwise ". The precentor, too,
when he is in their school, may give or take from them a book


from which to sing or read, and if they are serving at the
altar, they can give or take things as their orders require.
They shall be flogged in a chapter of their own, as their elders
are in the great chapter. When they go to confession they
shall go to the abbot or prior or those specially assigned for
the purpose by the abbot. While one confesses another shall
sit on the steps, and the master shall sit close by, outside
the chapter-house. Wherever they are, no one except the
persons above mentioned may make signs to them, no one
may smile at them. " No one shall go into their school, no
one shall speak to them anywhere, unless leave to go in or
to talk to them has been given by the abbot or prior. A
monk of more than ordinary gravity and discretion shall be
master over the other masters, one who knows how, when he
has heard any charge against them, to inflict punishment in
moderation on those who are at fault or to let them off."
This master was called not the schoolmaster but the order
master (magister ordinis].

Similarly stringent regulations apply to " the young men
coming in from the outside world ". They are given in
charge to masters, to be looked after in most things as is
before provided with regard to the boys. They shall, as is
above said, sit separate from each other ; shall never leave the
place in which they are kept, except with the monk who has
charge of them ; shall carry lanterns in pairs ; and shall make
confession to no one but the abbot or prior, unless by special
arrangement. No one shall be allowed to sit in the place
assigned to them except the abbot, the prior, and their
masters ; nor make any communication to them by words or
signs, except with the leave of the abbot or prior ; and when
leave is given the master ought to sit between the youth and
the one who is talking to him. Even as to these older boys,
it is enjoined that " No youth is to talk to another, except so
that the master may hear and understand what is said by
both of them. The masters ought to sit between them or in
front of them, so as to be able to see them, if they want to.
When they go to bed the masters ought to stand in front of
them with lighted candles until they lie down and are covered
over." They were treated, in fact, not as boys at school or
young men at a university, but like rogues in a reformatory.


The Novices' School was of course very small in point of
numbers. Though Lanfranc increased the number of monks
and fixed it at 140 to 150, this number was not in fact main-
tained. After 1 220, before which there are no records, it is
certain there were never more than sixty monks. At the
Dissolution there were only fifty-three, of whom nine were ap-
pointed to be scholars and two to be choristers on the new
foundation, and were presumably therefore still novices and in
the Novices' School. There is no means of ascertaining the
number of the Novices' School at any given time at Canter-
bury. But at Winchester, where sixty monks was the regular
number, there were never more than eight at once in the
Novices' School, generally only two or three and sometimes
none. The Novices' School inferentially appears in the
accounts as early as 1312, when the Almoner accounts for
" beer sent to the youths' bishop " the boy-bishop of the
secular schools " on Innocents' Day, 3^d.". But we get no
mention of the number of the youths till 1352 when the
Almoner's account includes " in a courtesy made to the Lord
Prior, the Sub-prior, the Third Prior and five youths at Fair
time (i September, the famous St. Giles' fair), 2os. 6d.". The
object of this "courtesy" or present appears in 1386 "a
courtesy made to the Lord Prior at Fair time for his knives,
133. 6d., the Sub-prior, 33. 4d., the Third Prior, 2s., and for
seven youths in school for their knives, 53. iod.".

That the youths in question were the young monks being
taught the order is made clear by the roll of the Almoner (who,
by the way, was himself, with one other monk, a student at
Oxford) for 1390, in which the entry appears as "for two
youths in school for their knives, 2s. ", while the Hordarian's
roll for 1495-6 distinguishes the payment " for 28 brethren
being out of school, each I2d., 28s.", and "for 4 youths in
school, each I2d., 43." By means of these knives, provided
by various officers in different years, we know the number of
these youths in school in thirty-six years between 1352 and
1537. The highest number was 9 in 1397 and 1472. There
were 8 in 1399, 7 in 1387, 1423, and 1483 ; 6 in 1433, 1438,
and 1477; 5 in 1401, 1405, and 1409. In five years there
were 4, in nine years there were 3, in six years 2, and in one
year, 1533, there was only one youth in school. Lastly, in two


years, 1485 and 1516, there were absolutely none in school,
the Hordarian entering in 1485, " Of any payment made to
youths in the school this year nothing, because none", and
the Almoner paying in 1516, "For knives this year nothing,
because no one in the school this year".

These brethren in school were not the boys (pueri) of
Lanfranc's "Constitutions", i.e. under fourteen years old, but
the youths " coming in from the outside world ". The practice
of oblates or boys devoted in babyhood or childhood to be
brought up in the monastery had apparently ceased long before
the fourteenth century.

Even if we double the Winchester figures of the four-
teenth century for Canterbury in the Norman period, though
it is very doubtful whether 150 monks were ever there, a possible
average of eight boys or youths in the school is reached. This
is hardly a sufficient number to justify the talk of the monastery
being a school.

Nor from what we know of the instruction given and its
results was the monastic school more worthy of regard for
the quality of its teaching than for the quantity of the

Very different was it with the secular schools.

The flood of the Norman Conquest had hardly abated be-
fore we find the schools emerging into the light of history.
The main difference caused by the Conquest was the gradual
substitution of Norman for English schoolmasters and the
translation by the schoolboys of Latin no longer into English
but into Norman-French, which, till the reign of Edward III,
was the vernacular of the upper classes in the country, of the
middle classes in the towns, and of the whole cultured and
clerkly class. That the schools did not disappear and that
they were frequented by the same class as before appears in
the Conqueror's own family history. Henry " his youngest son
in the course of nature, but the first-born in the purple and
on English soil ", claimed the kingdom of England against
the eldest son, Robert Duke of Normandy, on that account.
Being a younger son, he seems to have been at first destined for
the Church. At all events he was brought up as a clerk and has
descended even to nursery history as Beauclerc, the good
scholar. The Rev. William Hunt, in the Dictionary of Na-


tional Biography, with the curious penchant which he displays
for sending people to imaginary schools, has sent this young
Henry, as he sent the grammarian ^Elfric, to school at Abing-
don Abbey, and made him there receive "under Grimbald,
that education which in after years gave him the title of
Beauclerc". It is strange to find that for all its pretence of
exact detail there is not a tittle of evidence for this statement.
Its sole foundation appears to be a passage in the " Abingdon
Chronicle" which, so far from showing that Henry was at
school in the abbey, is direct evidence that he was not. The
chronicler says that in 1084, when Henry was fifteen years old
(jam adolescens), while his brothers were abroad in Normandy,
he, by his father's orders, spent Easter at Abingdon, with
Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, and Miles Crispin, knight, of
Wallingford, provisions being supplied by Robert d'Oilli, Con-
stable of Oxford Castle, not only for the royal party but for the
monastery. Expressio unius, exclusio alterius. The fact that
the chronicler expressly recorded that Henry spent this particu-
lar Easter holiday at Abingdon, not under the tutelage of the
abbot or any monk, but under a bishop and a knight, is as
good proof as there could be that he was not there at other
times, and was not at school there. Besides there is positive
proof that Henry was not in any monastic school. William ot
Malmesbury, who knew him personally, says of him : " Henry
senior was born in England in the third year after his father's
coming there. As a child [infans] he was excellently educated
by the unanimous desire of all, because, being the only one of
all William's sons born in the purple, the kingdom seemed to
be his right. And so he received his first instruction in the
rudiments in a grammar school (tyrocinium rudimentorum in
scolis egit litteralibus\ and so eagerly did he imbibe the honey
of learning into his very marrow that afterwards no confusions
of war, no political shocks could shake it out of his noble mind.
Though he never read much in public, nor chanted except in a
low voice, yet his learning was, as I can truly affirm, although
confused (tumultuarie] of great assistance to his science of reign-
ing, according to that saying of Plato's, 'Blessed is the state
in which philosophers are kings or kings philosophers '. And
so in hopes of being king he fortified his boyhood with learn-
ing, and, even in his father's hearing, frequently quoted the


proverb, 'An illiterate king is a crowned ass', Rex illiteratus
asinus coronatus"

The mention of the grammar school shows that Henry
was not educated in a monastery at all. If he had been, the
monk Malmesbury, who lost no opportunity of lauding the
monks, would not have lost the opportunity of saying so.
By using the technical terms for grammar school, precisely
the same, except for the word scolis for ludos, as that used
by the pseudo-Asser in describing the education of the children
of Alfred the Great, he clearly shows that he was referring
to some public school and not to any monastic one.

If we may guess what particular grammar school it was
to which Henry went, we must guess it to have been the
same Winchester grammar or high school to which the pseudo-
Asser sent Alfred's younger sons. The only possible com-
petitor with Winchester for the honour of educating Henry
I is St Paul's School, London. But London was not the
Conqueror's capital. To William as to Alfred his capital
and chief residence was Winchester. There his treasury was,
and there we may be sure his heart was also. There
Domesday Book was compiled and kept. There the Con-
queror kept his Court, except on two of the great feasts when
he " wore his crown " at London and Gloucester.

Whatever the school may have been which Henry
attended in school terms, it is interesting to find him under a
private tutor, Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, in the holidays.
For it is in connexion with Osmund that we have what, if we
could be sure that we had it in its original form, would be the
earliest post-Conquest document relating to a public school.
This is the famous " Institution of St. Osmund ", the founda-
tion statutes of Salisbury Cathedral, when first established,
not where it now is in the city of the plain, New Salisbury,
but in the city on the hill, in the castle of Old Sarum : a
name chiefly famous in modern times as the typical example
of a decayed and rotten borough, but in the eleventh century
the Acropolis of Mid-Wessex. It was then a city so populous
and thriving that, under the decree of the Council of London
of 1075, which directed the transference of bishops' sees from
decayed villages to large towns, the Mid-Wessex see was
moved there from Sherborne. Osmund, the Conqueror's


chancellor, was made bishop in 1078. He built a new cathe-
dral and established in it a chapter of secular canons under
the Institution or foundation statutes dated 1091. Unfor-
tunately the Institution is only known to us by an entry in
a fourteenth-century hand, interpolated in the earliest extant
episcopal register of Salisbury, written about 1250. This
document begins, " These are the dignities and customs of
the church of Sarum which I, Osmund, bishop of the same
church, have instituted in the name of the Holy Trinity in the
year 1091 and granted to the canons and persons of the same
church, with the advice of the lord archbishop and of other
my co-bishops whose names are underwritten, and the assent
of the Lord King William ". It then proceeds to set out the
duties of the various " persons " or dignitaries. The Dean and
Chanter (Cantor, i.e. Precentor), Chancellor and Treasurer shall
be continuously resident in the church of Sarum without any
kind of excuse. The archdeacons are so to arrange that two
of them are always to reside, while " the canons nothing can
excuse from being personally resident in the church of Sarum
unless for the sake of schools or the service of the Lord King
(causa scolarum vel servitium Regis], who is able to have one
in his chapel, the archbishop one, and the bishop three ".

There are points in this sentence which strongly suggest
that the document as it stands is not in its original state.
The first is the use of the word Sarum. This was a twelfth
or thirteenth-century quasi-classical innovation for Sares-
buria, like Oxonia for Oxeneford, and was due perhaps, as
Dr. Poole thinks, to a misreading of the abbreviation Sar'. Its
use may, however, be explained away as the mistake of the
copyist, who substituted for the original the word commonly
used in his own time.

A similar explanation may perhaps be put forward of
the evident blunder in grammar in the sentence as to atten-
dance at school and the royal service excusing from residence
at Salisbury, in which servitium regis is left as an accusativus
pendens. But the first excuse for non-residence causa scol-
arum, " attendance at the schools ", meaning the Universities,
is an absolute anachronism : there having been no Uni-
versities to attend in 1091, while the power of authorizing
non-residence of canons for the sake of education was the


peculiar prerogative of the Popes until 1163, when it was con-
ferred on bishops in general. It is a grievous pity that the
Institution, as it stands, is thus of doubtful date. For in de-
fining the duties of the four " persons " in detail, it brings out
the relative importance and precise status of the two distinct
cathedral schools, the Grammar School and the Song School.
" The Dean presides over all canons and all vicars as to ruling
(regimen} souls and correction of morals ; The Chanter ought
to rule the choir as to chanting and can raise or lower the
chants ; The Treasurer is pre-eminent in keeping the treasures
and ornaments and keeping the lights ; In like manner the
Chancellor in ruling the school and correcting books." After
dealing with the division of the common fund in which the
four " persons " take two shares to one taken by the simple
canon, and certain minor perquisites of the canons, which have
all the air of an interpolation or interpretation, not of original
legislation, the Institution passes on to the deputies, the
" devils " or understudies of the four " persons ". " The Sub-
dean holds from the Dean the archdeaconry of the town and
suburbs, the Subchanter (Succentor} from the Chanter, what
relates to chanting. If the Dean fails the church the Subdean
fills his place, so the Succentor that of the Precentor. The
Head of the school (archiscold) ought to hear and determine
the lessons (lectiones] and carry the seal of the church, com-
pose letters and charters and note the readers in the table,
and the Chanter likewise [ought to note] the chanters." It
seems from the context that the archiscola or head of the
school is here regarded as a distinct person from, and as being
the deputy of and subordinate to the chancellor. This alone
is fatal to the authenticity of the Institution as it stands. A
concatenation of evidence from other and older cathedrals,
York, London, and Lincoln, shows that the term chancellor
was not applied to this officer in England until the end of the
twelfth century. What is more, at Salisbury itself in 1139
the term schoolmaster is used for the person afterwards
known as the chancellor. By a deed of that year King
Stephen gave " Henry, Bishop of Winchester, and all his justices
and barons and faithful subjects, French and English, in Wilt-
shire " to know that he had " granted for the use of the school-
master of Salisbury (ad opus magistri scolarum Sarisberie)"


Odiham and other churches in Hampshire. Further, the list
of bishops who witness the Institution is not only inconsist-
ent with facts, as for instance, in giving Martin as Bishop of
London instead of Maurice ; John as Bishop of Bath, when
there was no Bishopric of Bath ; but is also in conflict with the
order and names of the bishops who signed William Rufus"
Confirmation Charter of Lincoln Cathedral, dated the year
before, 1090; and this charter is of superior authority being
known from a copy in Registrum Antiquissimum at Lincoln,
which is of the late twelfth century, two centuries earlier than
the earliest copy of the Institution. Indeed, the Institution
does not profess to be taken from the original charter, but
only from a copy in what is described as " a dirty little old

In view, however, of the Explanation of the Institution
given in a document executed on the removal of the cathedral
establishment and the city of old Salisbury to the present
cathedral and city of new Salisbury founded by Bishop
Poore in 1227, coupled with the evidence adducible from
York, London, and Lincoln, we may conclude that a school
was an integral part of the foundation of the new cathedrals
of Norman times, as it had been of earlier cathedrals, and
that the keeping of the school was the duty of one of its
principal officers, thence called schoolmaster and afterwards

Thus at York, when the cathedral statutes were written
down in a codified form in 1307, the date of the earliest
extant Chapter Act-Book, or minutes of proceedings or acts
of the chapter, it is stated that " The Chancellor," then the
third person in the minster, ranking after the dean and
precentor, " was anciently called schoolmaster ". This state-
ment was not founded on mere " tradition ", which generally
means guessing or inventing, but has written authority in the
authentic history of York by Hugh the Precentor, which ends
in 1127. Describing the work of Thomas, the first Norman
archbishop, appointed in 1070, after the harrying of the North
by the Conqueror, Hugh describes how the archbishop found
only three out of the then whole number of seven canons " in
the burnt and destroyed church and city ", the rest were either
dead or in exile. He recalled the exiles and added others and


established a provost. The canons then lived all together.
A few years afterwards he divided the possessions of the
Church into separate prebends or estates and established a
dean, treasurer, and precentor, " the schoolmaster (magister
scolarum) he had established before". In fact, as we have
seen, the schoolmastership dated from the separation of that
office from the archbishopric in the days of Alcuin, and the
provostry, which was an external rather than an internal
office, the provost's chief duty being to manage the property
of the church, probably dated from Saxon days in the tenth
century. The increasing importance of the singing and music
in cathedral establishments now reduced the schoolmaster
from the second to the third position in the church. When
Hugh records, under the year 1120, that the schoolmaster
accompanied Thurstan the Archbishop Elect to Blois, he calls
him by the name scholasticus, a title which never seems to
have come much into use in England, though it was the
regular title of the schoolmaster in many, indeed in most,
cathedrals in Normandy, France, Italy, and Germany. Be-
tween 1154 and 1181 Archbishop Roger granted to the dean

Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 11 of 39)